Bresaola

Started making Bresaola this evening. 1kg of topside trimmed of all fat and put to cure in a mix of sea salt, torn up bay leaves, crushed fresh garlic, crushed peppercorns, lemon peel, cloves, a few crushed, dried, chilli flakes and sprigs of rosemary. Will post the next stage in 5 days time – the whole process is going to take 5 or 6 weeks before tasting can begin.

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Step 1

11 May 2014 – Removed from the cure, rinsed and patted dry before marinading in a bottle of red wine.

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Step 2

17 May 2014 – Removed from the red wine marinade and patted dry. Bound with string and ready to hang up in a cool, dry, airy place.

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Step 3

1 June 2014 – The air drying process is proceeding well and fine white mould begins to appear which indicates that all is well. Compare with the very first picture to see how much the piece of beef has shrunk.

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Step 4

14 June 2014 – Ready to eat! Very finely sliced (almsot paper thin), I don’t think you could do this without a slicing machine. After taking the ‘photo I added some parmesan shavings and sprinkled on a little olive oil. Ate for lunch with a few olives and a chunk of bread.

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Sliced Bresaola

Tonka Bean Ice-Cream

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Tonka Bean Ice-Cream

In the posting describing my recent lunch at Verveine I enthused about the flavour of tonka beans. Once home I did a Google to find a supplier, waited impatiently for them to arrive and was finally able to make tonka bean ice-cream today. My immediate reaction was to describe the flavour as “the first flavour to come through is vanilla, then it evolves into something a little woody and finally homes in on cedar”. One website has this to say about them “The taste of the tonka bean is linked strongly to its scent. “Scents,” I should say, as the tonka bean has many at once. I register the aromas of vanilla, cherry, almond, and something spicy—a bit like cinnamon. When served cold—say, in tonka bean ice cream—the taste is like a vanilla caramel with dark honey. When warm, perhaps shaved over scallops, it moves toward spiced vanilla. Additionally, the aroma of the tonka bean shavings (it’s almost always shaved) is so affecting that it seems like an actual taste in the way that opium, which has no taste in the traditional sense, “tastes” like its rich, flowery smoke.”

If that’s whetted your appetite here’s how I made the Tonka Bean Ice-Cream.

1 x Tonka Bean
300ml Double Cream
300ml Full Fat Milk
3 x Yolks from large eggs
115g Sugar

I mixed the milk and cream together in a saucepan and then using a fine grater grated the tonka bean into the milk cream mix. If you don’t have a very fine grater I think a nutmeg grater would be ideal. The milk and cream mixture was heated, but not allowed to come to the boil, before putting a lid on the pan and turning off the heat. This was left for about 15 minutes to infuse before straining through a seive to remove to remove the tonke bean gratings. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together thoroughly and then pour in the milk cream mixture stirring all the time. Back on the stove to reheat again without boiling, but stirring all the time. I use a thermometer and remove the pan from the heat when it reaches 85C. Allow to cool and then use whatever method you like to make the ice-cream. Ice-cream maker or straight into a container, part freeze, remove and stir, freeze again, remove and stir etc.

Verveine, Milford on Sea

I was treated to lunch today at Verveine by my daughter.  It was my second visit to Verveine and it was every bit as memorable as the first visit!

We chose from the excellent value Lunch Menu and for starters I had Rabbit Confit with Smoked Pork Cheek and Remoulade. Normally I’d have chosen the fish option which came with pickled vegeatables but with my new found interest in home curing and smoking I wanted to try the rabbit and smoked pork. A great choice and the smoked pork cheek was superb.

My chosen main which was described on the menu as Brixham Flat Fish turned out to be a fillet of Megrim which has been described as ‘a fish that only a mother could love’! I’m not it’s mother and I loved it. Then again, I didn’t see it before it was skinned and filleted. The texture was excellent and the flavour was up there with the possibly over-priced Dover Sole. Cooked to perfection, it came with poached oysters and saute potatoes. A confession here which I shouldn’t have to make at my age – I’ve eaten, I don’t know how many oysters, each with a squeeze of lemon and a grind of black pepper but I’ve never before eaten a cooked one! Isn’t a cooked one different to a raw one? I thought it was quite similar to a mussel and would never has guessed that it was an oyster.

Another first with the dessert – tonka beans. I didn’t know of tonka beans but here was a Tonka Bean Panna Cotta served with Pear and a small cube of Chocolate Brownie. I’m now going search out tonka beans because the flavour is absolutely brilliant. The very first flavour to come through is vanilla, then it evolves into something a little woody and finally homes in on cedar. That’s a flavour I’ve got to play with. Marriages are between a couple so this combination of pear, brownie and tonks bean panna cotta was a ‘menage a trois’ made in heaven.

The Petit Fours with Coffee included two I remembered with great affection from my first visit. A tiny Fisherman’s Friend flavoured meringue. I know, it sounds horrible and overpowering. Trust me it’s not! All the Fisherman’s Friend flavour is there but it’s very gentle and doesn’t overpower in any way. The other Petit Four I loved was a cube of Salted Caramel wrapped up like a toffee in a clear cellophane wrapper. Except that the wrapper is not cellophane but is made from potato starch so you eat the thing whole. That’s really clever.

Thank you, Verveine, for a truly great lunch.

Risotto Primavera

Risotto Primavera

Risotto Primavera

I first blanched fresh peas, a few sprigs of asparagus and broad beans which I then slipped the skins off. A little olive oil was heated in the pan to sweat a couple of thickly sliced spring onions before adding Arborio rice and stirring it around until it became slightly translucent. Then in with a glug of white wine which was quicly boiled off before adding vegetable stock a little at a time for the next 15 minutes or so. The vegetables were then added and given a couple of minutes to reheat and finish cooking before adding a good knob of butter and some grated Parmesan. This was stirred in and the lid put on the pan which was taken off the heat and left alone for 3 or 4 minutes before serving.